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2020 Cadillac CT5

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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
July 21, 2020

Buying tip

Stick with synthetic leather upholstery; leather will cost you.

features & specs

4-Door Sedan Luxury
4-Door Sedan Premium Luxury
4-Door Sedan Sport
MPG
23 city / 32 hwy
MPG
23 city / 32 hwy
MPG
23 city / 32 hwy
MSRP
$36,895
MSRP
$40,695
MSRP
$41,695

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 improves upon the agile CTS and at a substantially lower price.

Cadillac has a long history with sedans—although sometimes it helps to have a short memory.

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 is a mid-size sedan that’s slightly smaller than its predecessor. Will the new look and the slightly smaller size appeal to buyers? That remains to be seen.

The CT5 advances on its CTS predecessor’s agile handling, comes with a new engine lineup, and improves rear seat leg room. Its main strength is its dynamic capability, but it also has attractive looks, a comfortable cabin with plenty of amenities, and a comprehensive suite of available safety features. We rate it a 7.2 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Review continues below

The CT5 takes on a fastback shape advances Cadillac’s chiseled and attractive design over the CTS. It’s also sporty, with the wheels pushed to the corners and bits of sculpted inspiration from the beautiful Escala concept car.

Along with the name change from CTS to CT5, Cadillac shuffles its performance lineup. The V Sport is gone, replaced by the CT5-V, and the V-Series becomes the Blackwing, which is due later. The rest of the lineup consists of Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport trims. Prices start at $37,890 for the base model and range up to $51,290 for the CTS-V with all-wheel drive. That’s a savings of roughly $10,000-$14,000 versus the CTS.

All models are well equipped, and the CT5-V boasts performance equipment such as Brembo brakes, magnetic dampers, an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential, and sticky summer tires. 

With the CT5, Cadillac has a competitor for a bevy of luxury cars from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. Ultimately, a performance version of the CT5 may arrive later to take on high-powered versions of those cars, something Cadillac has done very well in the past.

The CT5-V gets the most-powerful engine (for now) in the form of a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 360 horsepower. A 335-hp version of that engine is available in the Premium Luxury model, while the rest get a 237-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4. All are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is offered throughout the lineup. 

Cadillac’s Alpha platform that provided the basis for the CTS also underpins the CT5. Its double-link front MacPherson strut and five-link rear suspension create exemplary handling with a firm but comfortable and controlled ride quality. The CT5-V’s magnetic dampers help create that balance, and its twin-turbo V-6 piles on thrilling power. The upcoming CT5 Blackwing should be phenomenal.

Inside, the CT5 has form-fitting bucket seats, high-quality soft-touch surfaces, and a new 10.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment that’s easy to use and displays the clearest rearview camera we’ve seen. The infotainment system has a rotary controller, natural voice recognition, steering wheel controls, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. 

Safety isn’t forgotten, either. The CT5 has a decent sampler of safety features standard, including eight airbags, automatic emergency braking, and GM’s vibrating safety alert seat. More driver-assistance technology is available, highlighted by a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, active lane control with lane departure warnings, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts. Cadillac’s Super Cruise system that can drive the car itself on divided highways is coming for 2021.

7

2020 Cadillac CT5

Styling

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 cuts an attractive fastback shape that is modern and distinctive.

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 trades the CTS’s traditional sedan design for a fastback look. It’s an attractive, chiseled design, but not entirely cohesive. We rate the CT5 a 7 out of 10 for its general good looks inside and out. 

The CT5 bears some resemblance to the company’s outgoing full-size sedan, the CT6, and borrows inspiration from the 2016 Escala concept.

The new sedan sports a more upright nose, a wider grille, vertical headlights, a wheels-at-the-corners stance, and sculpted, angular shapes. The hood and body sides are deeply creased and skip the Art & Science jaggedness for a blockier, but ultimately more contemporary look.

The CT5’s rear roof pillar may be the most recognizable design cue compared to the outgoing sedans; it creates a fastback shape (even though the CT5 is a sedan with a trunk instead of a hatchback) and its rear window line kicks up quickly toward a high tail. The elongated greenhouse resolves in a black plastic piece that mimics the look of a rear quarter-window.

Inside, the design plays off the exterior and impresses with carefully assembled soft-touch materials. It’s overwhelmingly black, though, as the standard synthetic leather upholstery comes only in black. While it is broken up by aluminum controls on the dash and steering wheel, Cadillac makes buyers pay for any upholstery color other than black and requires spending extra money on other options to do it.

Review continues below
8

2020 Cadillac CT5

Performance

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 delivers a fine balance of ride and handling, with a shot of power from its twin-turbo V-6.

The Cadillac CT5 only improves upon the excellent ride and handling of its CTS predecessor, and offers a new engine lineup as well. We haven’t tested the turbo-4, but the twin-turbo V-6 is raucous fun. We give the CT5 an 8 out of 10 for performance based on its agile moves, comfortable ride, and willing powertrains.

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 starts with the Alpha platform from the CTS and aims for refinement in addition to the outstanding handling in the CTS. It’s slightly stiffer, but Cadillac focused mostly on stiffening the suspension-to-body mounts, ride quality, and quietness. Based on our drive of the CT5-V, that work has paid off. 

Every CT5 is outfitted with a MacPherson strut front suspension with a double-pivot design and an independent five-link rear suspension. The CT5-V gets a performance tune for the suspension, plus GM’s outstanding adaptive and adjustable magnetic dampers. Other performance parts include an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential, four-piston Brembo front brake calipers that clamp 13.6-inch discs, summer-performance Michelin Pilot 4S tires, and a traction management system with several modes to control tire slip. 

The CT5-V weighs in at a hair under 4,000 pounds, but it feels lighter than that. The magnetic dampers do a fantastic job of balancing ride quality with handling response, and the electric-assist power steering provides quick reactions, on-center stability, and more feel than than most systems this side of hydraulic assist. The car exhibits some body lean in sharp corners, but it’s well controlled, and the handling is agile with just a slight tendency to push forward rather than rotate when driven fast into a tight corner because of its weight and size. The rear differential sends power to the rear wheel with grip, which helps launch the car out of turns. 

The CT5-V’s ride quality is firm, but not harsh, and the driver can feel what’s going on at the tires without risking internal organ damage. Those magnetic dampers are a blessing.

So is the CT5-V’s engine. It’s a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 that spins out 360 hp and 405 pound-feet of torque. It delivers its power with gusto. The torque comes on like a wave at low rpm and pushes the CT5-V from 0-60 mph in as little as 4.6 seconds, according to Cadillac and our personal chronometer. Passing is a breeze, and the V-6 works well with a smooth and quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission. 

The V-6’s sound isn’t as premium as its power. It makes a droning mid-range howl when pushed, and sits quietly but noticeably in the background while cruising. 

Cadillac also offers a 335-hp version of the V-6 in the Premium Luxury model and a new 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. We’ll update this review when we’ve driven those models.

Review continues below
8

2020 Cadillac CT5

Comfort & Quality

High quality materials, a large infotainment touchscreen, and plentiful rear leg room highlight the 2020 Cadillac CT5’s cabin.

Compared to the CTS it replaces, the CT5 makes strides forward in interior quality, and also adds space in some areas while giving it back in others. We rate the 2020 CT5 a 7 out of 10 for comfort and quality based on its fantastic front seats and the fit and finish of its cabin. 

The CT5’s interior materials feel great. Soft-touch surfaces adorn most of the touchpoints, and they are complimented by aluminum buttons with a solid feel, available carbon-fiber trim, and contrast stitching. The front seats, especially the 18-way sport buckets in the CT5-V, have a wide range of adjustments to support any body type and enough bolstering to hold occupants in place when the road turns twisty. 

We like the size of the standard 10.0-inch touchscreen, and Cadillac provides three ways to control the infotainment system: touch, voice, and a rotary dial on the center console. The screen’s large icons, swipe capability, and proximity to the driver make touch controls easy to use and understand. The screen also has the best rearview camera resolution we’ve seen. More information can be found in a digital driver information center that sits between the analog speedometer and tachometer.

Cadillac makes some odd choices for a few features. The control for a lumbar massage function is a small round button on the outboard side of each front seat. Most drivers wouldn’t find it unless someone pointed it out to them. The standard upholstery is faux leather that looks just fine, but buyers who want to go with real leather and/or add color have to choose additional packages as well. On the base model, the jump is $2,300 for leather seats and on the CT5-V it’s at least $6,990 and up to $13,000 due to required additional trim packages. 

Cadillac switches from a traditional sedan layout in the CTS to a more flowing coupe-like design with the CT5. The new car rides a 1.4-inch longer wheelbase, but is 1.7 inches shorter. The net effect is an additional 2.5 inches of rear leg room, but almost an inch less rear head room. A 6-footer should fit just fine behind another 6-footer, with leg room to spare, but anyone taller than that will have a head room issue in back. 

The trunk also has a smaller aperture, so larger items might not fit, and it holds only 11.9 cubic feet of cargo, which is quite small for the class. While the rear seats fold flat, the opening between the trunk and interior will also limit loading longer, wider items in the CT5.

Review continues below

2020 Cadillac CT5

Safety

Cadillac makes automatic emergency braking standard on the CT5 and earns a five-star NHTSA crash-test rating.

Cadillac is no longer making safety features only available on the top model, a move we endorse. In fact, the 2020 Cadillac CT5 has a decent set of standard safety features, including an excellent rearview camera projection. A variety of additional safety equipment is also optional or standard on higher-line models. However, the new CT5 has not been fully crash-tested yet, and therefore we can’t give it a safety score.

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 aced the NHTSA battery of crash tests, earning five stars across the board for front, side, and rollover crash results. 

Standard safety features consist of eight airbags including knee airbags for the front passengers, forward collision warnings with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, and GM’s safety alert seat that vibrates in the direction of possible danger such as from merging cars. Also available on higher line models and in various packages are a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, active lane control with lane departure warnings, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, rear pedestrian alerts, reverse automatic emergency braking, rear park assist, adaptive headlights, and an automatic parking feature.

Review continues below
8

2020 Cadillac CT5

Features

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 offers a solid feature set and a variety of appealing configurations.

From simple and smooth to loaded and sporty, the 2020 Cadillac CT5 offers a model for most tastes. We rate it an 8 for its plentiful base features, its variety of models and options, and its excellent infotainment system. 

Cadillac offers the CT5 in Luxury trim for $37,890, Luxury Premium trim for $41,690, Sport trim for $42,690, and V-Series trim for $48,690. Those prices represent a savings of roughly $10,000-$14,000 versus the CTS that went out of production after the 2018 model year. Available all-wheel drive costs between $2,600 and $3,100, depending on trim. 

Standard equipment on the base Luxury model includes synthetic leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and a 10-way front passenger seat, a split-folding rear seat, keyless access and starting, a 10.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with natural voice recognition, three USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a nine-speaker audio system, satellite radio, HD radio, Bluetooth, 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot capability, a digital driver information center, remote starting, dual-zone automatic climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels on all-season tires, and LED headlights and taillights.

We like the performance of the CT5-V. It adds 18-way power-adjustable front seats, 19-inch alloy wheels, summer tires, Brembo front brakes, a rear spoiler, magnetic dampers, an electronic limited-slip rear differential, driver memory, alloy pedals, ambient lighting, and wireless phone charging.

Leather upholstery is standard on the Premium Luxury trim, unavailable on the Luxury trim, and optional on the Sport and CT5-V, where it requires other features. On the CT5-V, adding leather and any interior color other than black adds $6,990 to the price, though many of the additional features are quite useful.

Other notable options include all-wheel drive, navigation, a 15-speaker Bose audio system, heated and cooled seats, massaging seats, a heated steering wheel, a larger 8.0-inch digital driver information center, a head-up display, and a sunroof.

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5

2020 Cadillac CT5

Fuel Economy

In its base form the 2020 Cadillac CT5 goes light on gas, but AWD, the larger engine, and the CT5-V model all consume more fuel.

The 2020 Cadillac CT5’s base 2.0-liter turbo-4 is fairly efficient, and we give the CT5 a rating of 5 out of 10 for fuel economy based on its 23 mpg city, 32 highway, 26 combined EPA rating. Adding all-wheel drive or choosing the twin-turbo V-6 reduces those numbers. 

With the 2.0-liter turbo-4 and all-wheel drive, the CT5’s EPA rating drops to 21/31/25 mpg. 

Cadillac makes two versions of its twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. The 335-hp version in the Premium Luxury trim is rated at 19/26/21 mpg with rear drive and 18/25/21 mpg with AWD. The 360-hp version in the CT5-V drops slightly to 18/26/21 mph with rear drive and 17/25/20 with AWD.

Review continues below
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$36,895
MSRP based on 4-Door Sedan Luxury
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7.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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2020 Cadillac CT5 Pricing Insights

  • 2020 CT5 supplies in good shape
  • Factory rebate up to $1,500
  • Lease from $419 for 39 months
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